Every loyal gig-goer should know the benefits of getting into a gig early. Not just to get to the barrier ready to sweat it out with the headliners, but for the chance to see that most rare musical phenomenon – a support band that might just be the next big thing.
When three-clean shaven young men (and I do mean young) take to the stage I was prepared for another generic, pleasant performance. However, after the bass kicks in and the drums start up, 16 year old Chloe Chaidez strides up and sets about giving 100% to a crowd that, at this point in the evening, is predictably small. The numbers increase steadily though, as the somewhat misleadingly named Kitten captivate the room. It takes some faith to bring a band of mid-teens from Nashville all the way across the pond but the youthful band have already got plenty of gigs under their belt, sharing stages with the likes of Incubus and Band of Horses.
On a night like this, that experience counts. When she hasn’t got a guitar in hand, front woman Chloe is a ball of energy, thrashing and bashing her way around. Mic stands, cymbals and even monitors suffer her wrath as the band make every note count, and at great volume. It’s progressive but uncomplicated indie rock and while some song introductions could be lifted straight from an early Editors album, others are chest thumpingly heavy. As musicians they are air tight, especially for a group so young and with a bit of luck they could go on to much, much bigger things and the only way is up.
The second band Tribes are watched by a much bigger and rowdier crowd. Word has obviously gotten out about the band, but I’m not sure which word, because tonight their set falls a bit flat despite the constant cheers from pint wielding men in their mid-thirties who would be just as comfortable at an Blur comeback concert. They aren’t bad musically, and even if you wouldn’t skip their music on your iPod, they don’t set the place alight in the manner of the first (and last) bands of the night. It’s just a bit laboured, and they aren’t helped by an injury from singer and guitarist Johnny Lloyd, whose hand is literally pouring blood even as the first few notes of their opening song are played.
For a scruffy Brit rock and roll star though, he doesn’t half bang on about it, and their set is halted after the first track to have some kitchen roll delivered to stop the bleeding. Who says rock and roll is dead? The songs, mainly from the newly released EP ‘We Were Children’ have a grunge edge to them as well and with Cobain-style vocals their set rings of a band that can’t quite nail down their sound. Upon doing that they might well have a chance to fill the obvious post-Oasis gap, but for now, imitation isn’t the best form of flattery, sincere or not.
Making a relatively low key entrance sporting various lagers and energy drinks, are Funeral Party. They’ve recently enjoyed a meteoric rise from playing gigs in warehouses and car parks with borrowed gear to being named in just about everybody’s list of bands to watch out for this year and they don’t disappoint tonight’s somewhat lethargic crowd. Songs like ‘Golden Age of Knowhere’ and ‘Finale’ were simply made to be danced to and even the most static audience members can’t help tapping their feet along. It’s great to see a singer who genuinely believes in what he’s singing. The fantastically rebellious yelps of frontman Chad Elliot are evidence that this band know they’ve had to work very hard to get where they are today, but now they’re here they’ll definitely enjoy it.
The banter flows – ‘Fuck it; I’m enjoying your bank holiday!’ A few members of the band at some points seem a bit disinterested to the naked eye, although this could be explained by a very suspicious herby smell coming from the direction of the tour bus just moments after the gig. For the most part however, the energy is up, the dancing is up and so is the volume and it almost feels like a lap of honour when the band unveil a few new tracks, before appearing for an encore with the infectious album title track ‘New York City Moves To The Sound of LA’. With several UK festival appearances due this summer, and new material being written even so soon after the release of their first album, they’re definitely ones to watch out for. If you’re lucky enough to be going to Leeds Festival this year, Funeral Party are one band whose set will be an absolute must-watch…